In two years I saved money to buy my first home. On my own.
And I wanted to share an insight on how I made what I’d always dreamed of, a reality. Just to be clear, this isn’t a post to be braggy, far from it. I just genuinely want to share my experiences with you and maybe it will be helpful to some of you, too.
So often, especially in my industry, people are so very quick to clam up when it comes to talking about money. And whilst I’m not going to sit here and share my end of year accounts with you, I am all about being transparent when it comes to my lifestyle. (disclaimer: we’re not talking a six figure salary here – no where near. But that’s not what this post is meant to be about, it’s about how I learned discipline within myself to make the life I want).
Two years ago I knew I wanted to buy a house in 2017 – I looked at the market and knew the size and type of property I wanted to buy, how much it would cost and therefore how much deposit I would need. Without this information I’d have been going in blind, but with it, I knew exactly where to aim.
HOW I SAVED MY DOLLAR.
My teen years were spent, quite literally. Spending everything I earned. I didn’t go to university and with a full-time job at eighteen, I lived lavishly. I paid no mind to the fact I would need stability in the future and had perfectly styled hair to prove it, thank you very much.
Responsibilities rolled around and renting a house meant I had to up my A game – no time for sh*ts and giggles now, kids.
In short, a spreadsheet taught me how to be vigilant.
It may sound simple, but how many of you use one?
Every month I would input my salary, make a running list of all my outgoings so I could accurately attain how much I could, or couldn’t spend that month. For a very long time, I lived off very little. Giving myself a small amount per month to spend on what I referred to as niceties – such as eating out with friends, going to the cinema, or buying skincare/makeup (aka. living). It was a learning curve and I didn’t find it easy, but I did it – and it shaped who I am and how I value money today.
I’m no longer attached to it in the way I was when I was a teenager. I see the possibilities behind it, the opportunities it will bring if I just let it grow.
So now, being self-employed and not having a standard monthly wage, well – it messed everything up didn’t it?
It meant my spreadsheet went tits up, to be honest. But that discipline I’d once had stuck, in one way or another.
I knew that as soon as a pay cheque came in, I’d separate it out in to the pots it needed to be in.
No matter how little, as soon as that bottom pot started to grow I felt my future grow too. I felt such an overwhelming sense of safety that there was very little that would be more important than seeing it continue to flourish.
I applied for a Monzo card so that I could easily monitor my spending by categories, from petrol to groceries and eating out to train fares. Like my old spreadsheet consolidated on to my debit card for immediate use and moderation.
Savings wise, asides from my savings account I also signed up for the Help to Buy ISA, I could put a maximum of £250 in a month (which you by no means have to do, it’s totally flexible) and knew that at the end, the government would give me a percentage of whatever I’d managed to save towards my deposit. It was a huge incentive for me to work extra hard to be able to top it up.
HOW I STOPPED MYSELF GOING STIR CRAZY.
It wasn’t easy and I’m not perfect – nor am I rich.
I had months where I splurged, months where I said ‘oh fudge it, it’s not possible anyway’. But I utilised my common sense, mostly. I knew I wouldn’t be able to live the high life whilst I was saving, so I saved where I could.
As a young woman I still wanted to enjoy spending time with my friends, you know, going out. To try and relieve the guilt of spending, I signed up for a monthly subscription to Cineworld: unlimited cinema for £17 a month – including 25% off at a few restaurants too. It meant that when I wanted to do something other than have a cuppa with my friends, I could go out for dinner for that little bit cheaper and then go to the cinema with them, too.
I cleaned out my entire wardrobe. I banged a load of stuff on Depop, had my own version of a yard sale and the rest? I found a local second hand clothes dealer, who bought ten bin liners worth of garments off me.
I blog for a living and I got savvy with that – and if you’re not a blogger, what I would say to you is: Focus on what you’re really talented at and use it. Maybe you’re a dab hand at knitting – sell some scarves at a car boot. Maybe you sing like a boss – join a band and start gigging. Maybe you write like Shakespeare – dabble in freelance work. I’m not saying any of those things are easy – but you really don’t know just how willing people will be to help you out when you let yourself own your talent.
And that’s it. It’s no big secret. It’s not rocket science.
I’m not saying if you follow these
simple steps it’s a given, you’ll be able to buy a house – what I’m saying is learning to live my life this way has been fundamental to me getting to this point.
And Jesus it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But boy, it’s possible.